Slow Start Buy-Low Candidates

Updated: October 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm by Michael Bondy

The Fantasy hockey season is approximately 24 weeks long (Including playoffs), and much like every season, people are panicking to “fix” their rosters after a rough couple of weeks. Therefore, panicking after week two and selling underperforming assets is a strategy I would never endorse. However, taking advantage of owners in your league who are quick to give up on players, is something I can stand behind. Below are three Buy-Low candidates who may be at their lowest values all season and who should be grabbed before they prove their true potential.

Max Pacioretty – LW – Canadiens

Games Goals  Assists  Shots SH%
8 1 0 33 3.0%

No team has struggled more to score out of the gate than the Montreal Canadiens this season. Averaging a league-low 1.5 GF/GP has surely had its share of negative repercussions on all Montreal forwards across the board. This makes nearly every Canadiens’ player a buy-low candidate eight games into the season.

The Canadiens are looking more like a case of bad luck rather than just a really bad team, and Pacioretty is no different than the team surrounding him. Montreal trails only the Edmonton Oilers in Shots on Goal per game with 38.4 shots averaged nightly. While it is a small sample size, it is worth noting if the season were to end today with those numbers, the Canadiens would average nearly 4 more shots per game than last season’s league-leader, the Pittsburgh Penguins (3.39 GF/GP in 2016-17). The Canadiens look on the verge of turning their scoring woes around and Pacioretty should be both the prime reason, as well as prime benefactor to the positive regression. With 33 shots through his first eight games, Pacioretty is on pace for 338 shots per 82-games—obviously would be a career high and would put him on-pace for 38 goals with his career 11.2 shooting percentage.

In his career, Pacioretty has scored 30-plus goals every season where he has fired 250 SOG or more (five times). Thus proving regardless of the rough start, the Canadiens’ captain should be expected to produce elite scoring from the shallow left wing position. Averaging 35 goals a year for the past four seasons, the 28-year-old has proven year-in and year-out that he is an elite source of goals, and this season should be no different regardless of the start. In the past five years, Pacioretty is fourth behind only Alex Ovechkin (198), Sidney Crosby (148) and Joe Pavelski (146) for most goals league-wide, further pointing to reason to buy now.

Suggested Trade Pieces: TJ Oshie, Evander Kane, Anthony Mantha, James Neal

Oscar Klefbom – D – Oilers

Games Goals  Assists  Shots SH%
7 0 1 22 0.0%

Klefbom plans to get 250 shots on net, top-end shot production from a fantasy defenseman. With 22 shots already through his first seven games, the Oilers’ blueliner seems very capable of accomplishing that early season goal. In fact, if Klefbom were to shoot at his below league average, six percent clip like he last season, he would set a career high with 15 goals by seasons end; an amount that only six other defenseman were able to achieve across the entire NHL in 2016-17. To expect an increase in his 6-percent shooting is also a very likely reality.

As Klefbom continues to adapt to the NHL while leading the Oilers blueline, the shots should start to go in more. Following a career year a season ago where he posted highs in goals (12), assists (26) and PPP (16) Klefbom should only progress as he grows as a player. The young blueliner is surrounded by an ensemble of exciting talent and as the current No.1 D-man on the Oilers’ power-play which features fantasy superstar, Connor McDavid, is worth taking a flier on as his trade value may never reach a lower point. Klefbom has legitimate No.2 fantasy ability if he can play at the level that the Oilers staff and fans expect.  With the Oilers early-season struggles, owners may be looking to part ways with this blueliner for basically anything.  The Oilers have five of their last six games, but look for Klefbom to reemerge as well as the team which many had as preseason Stanley Cup favourites.

Suggested Trade Pieces: Anyone at the bottom of your roster/ Your worst Defenseman 

Aleksander Barkov – C – Panthers

Games Goals  Assists  Shots SH%
8 2 4 19 10.5%

All three players have been a product of bad production around them, and Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers is no different. Fantasy owners often panic when bad trends start, something that can only favor those in need of a top end center. Barkov struggled real early on, but has picked up two goals and an assist in his last two games—so pounce before it’s too late.

Barkov is averaging a career-high 22:49 TOI to start the season, proving new head coach Bob Boughner, will not hesitate to give him as much ice as possible, which should directly translate into fantasy success. Barkov is Florida’s star, and many people, as well as fantasy owners, have yet to receive that memo with the Panthers being a small market team.

At only 22 years old, Barkov looks poised to finally surpass the 60-point plateau that injuries have taken from him the past two seasons. Barkov’s biggest question mark is his health, as his ability to put up points has been proven since breaking out in 2015-16. (0.87 PPG in 127 GP in last two seasons) A career 13.7% shooter, Barkov has never amassed more than 174 shots across a total season, yet he has surpassed 20+ goals twice in his career. With a few more pucks to the net and some healthy legs, Barkov is one 200-plus shot season away from being a 30-plus goal scorer. Fellow linemate Jonathan Huberdeau finally looks healthy as well, (7 Pts in 7 GP) sparking even more potential to Barkov. Barkov may be more difficult to acquire than the other two, but his owners may be in panic mode early with Florida off to a mediocre 3-4-0 start the season. If you can snag Barkov from under their nose, expect great things as the season continues on.

Suggested Trade Pieces: Alexander Wennberg, Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Zibanejad

Aleksander Barkov, Max Pacioretty, Oscar Klefbom